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When the verb of a sentence is in the active voice,
the subject is doing the acting, as in the sentence “Kevin hit the ball.” Kevin (the subject of the sentence) acts in relation to the ball.
Aesthetic- pertaining to, involving, or concerned with pure emotion and sensation as opposed to pure
Allegory- a representation of an abstract or spiritual meaning through concrete or material forms;
figurative treatment of one subject under the guise of another.
Alliteration- the commencement of two or more stressed syllables of a word group either with the same consonant sound or sound group (consonantal alliteration), as in from stem to stern, or with a vowel sound that may differ from syllable to syllable (vocalic alliteration), as in each to all. Allusion- a passing or casual reference; an incidental mention of something, either directly or by implication: an allusion to Shakespeare. Ambiguity- doubtfulness or uncertainty of meaning or intention: to speak with ambiguity; an ambiguity of manner. Existence of 2 or more meanings in literature. Ambivalence- uncertainty or fluctuation, especially when caused by inability to make a choice or by
a simultaneous desire to say or do two opposite or conflicting things . Coexistence of 2 or more emotions.
Anachronism- something or someone that is not in its correct historical or chronological time, especially a thing or person that belongs to an earlier time: The sword is an anachronism in modern warfare. Analogy- a similarity between like features of two things, on which a comparison may be based: the analogy between the heart and a pump. Analyze- to examine critically, so as to bring out the essential elements or give the essence of: to analyze a poem. Anecdote- a short account of a particular incident or event, especially of an interesting or amusing
Antagonist- the adversary of the hero or protagonist of a drama or other literary work. Antecedent- a preceding circumstance, event, object, style, phenomenon, etc. Anti-climax- an event, conclusion, statement, etc., that is far less important, powerful, or striking
Anti-hero- a protagonist who lacks the attributes that make a heroic figure, as nobility of mind and
spirit, a life or attitude marked by action or purpose, and the like.
Antithesis- opposition; contrast: the antithesis of right and wrong. Antonym- word opposite in meaning to another. Fast is an antonym of slow. Apostrophe- a digression in the form of an address to someone not present, or to a personified
object or idea, as “O Death, where is thy sting?”
Archetype- the original pattern or model from which all things of the same kind are copied or on
which they are based; a model or first form; prototype.
Argumentation- discussion; debate; disputation: The lengthy argumentation tired many listeners. Artistic Fault- A stylistic problem distinct from the quality of the poem/prosody Aside- a part of an actor's lines supposedly not heard by others on the stage and intended only for
Assonance- rhyme in which the same vowel sounds are used with different consonants in the stressed syllables of the rhyming words, as in penitent and reticence. Atmosphere- the prevailing tone or mood of a novel, symphony, painting, or other work of art Authorial Aside- A comment from the author separate from the knowledge of the characters Autobiography- a history of a person's life written or told by that person. Ballad- a simple narrative poem of folk origin, composed in short stanzas and adapted for singing. Bard- a person who composed and recited epic or heroic poems, often while playing the harp, lyre, or
Bathos- a ludicrous descent from the exalted or lofty to the commonplace; anticlimax. Black Humor- a form of humor that regards human suffering as absurd rather than pitiable, or that
considers human existence as ironic and pointless but somehow comic.
Blank Verse- unrhymed verse, especially the unrhymed iambic pentameter most frequently used in
English dramatic, epic, and reflective verse.
Cacophony- a discordant and meaningless mixture of sounds: the cacophony produced by city traffic at midday.
Caesura- a break, especially a sense pause, usually near the middle of a verse, and marked in scansion by a double vertical line, as in know then thyself ‖ presume not God to scan. Caricature- a picture, description, etc., ludicrously exaggerating the peculiarities or defects of persons or things: His caricature of the mayor in this morning's paper is the best he's ever drawn. Carpe Diem- enjoy the pleasures of the moment, without concern for the future Catharsis- the purging of the emotions or relieving of emotional tensions, especially through certain
kinds of art, as tragedy or music.
Catalyst- a person or thing that precipitates an event or change: His imprisonment by the government served as the catalyst that helped transform social unrest into revolution. Character Foil- character that represents the opposite of another character Characterization- the creation and convincing representation of fictitious characters Chorus (Greek)- a lyric poem, believed to have been in dithyrambic form, that was sung and danced
to, originally as a religious rite, by a company of persons.
Chronological- arranged in the order of time: a chronological list of events. Chronological Sequence- a following of one thing after another in time Circumlocution- a roundabout or indirect way of speaking; the use of more words than necessary to
express an idea.
Classicism- the principles or styles characteristic of the literature and art of ancient Greece and
Cliché- a trite, stereotyped expression; a sentence or phrase, usually expressing a popular or common thought or idea, that has lost originality, ingenuity, and impact by long overuse, as sadder but wiser, or strong as an ox. OR (in art, literature, drama, etc.) a trite or hackneyed plot,
character development, use of color, musical expression, etc.
Climax- the highest or most intense point in the development or resolution of something; culmination: His career reached its climax when he was elected president. Colloquial- characteristic of or appropriate to ordinary or familiar conversation rather than formal
speech or writing; informal.
Comic Relief- relief from tension caused by the introduction or occurrence of a comic element, as
by an amusing human foible.
Comparison- a likening; illustration by similitude; comparative estimate or statement.
Connotation- the associated or secondary meaning of a word or expression in addition to its explicit or primary meaning:A possible connotation of “home” is “a place of warmth, comfort,and affection.” Consonance- the correspondence of consonants, especially those at the end of a word, in a passage
of prose or verse.
Context- the parts of a written or spoken statement that precede or follow a specific word or
passage, usually influencing its meaning or effect
Contrast- to compare in order to show unlikeness or differences; note the opposite natures,
purposes, etc., of
Couplet- a pair of successive lines of verse, especially a pair that rhyme and are of the same length. Denotation- the explicit or direct meaning or set of meanings of a word or expression, as
distinguished from the ideas or meanings associated with it or suggested by it; the association or set of associations that a word usually elicits for most speakers of a language, as distinguished from those elicited for any individual speaker because of personal experience.
Denouement- the final resolution of the intricacies of a plot, as of a drama or novel. Deus Ex Machina- any artificial or improbable device resolving the difficulties of a plot. Dialect- a provincial, rural, or socially distinct variety of a language that differs from the standard
language, especially when considered as substandard.
Dialogue- the conversation between characters in a novel, drama, etc. Dichotomy- division into two parts or classifications, esp. when they are sharply distinguished or
Diction- style of speaking or writing as dependent upon choice of words
Didactic- inclined to teach or lecture others too much Digression- a passage or section that deviates from the central theme in speech or writing. Dimeter- a verse or line of two measures or feet, Dogma- an official system of principles or tenets concerning faith, morals, behavior, etc., as of a church Dramatic Monologue- a poetic form in which a single character, addressing a silent auditor at a critical moment, reveals himself or herself and the dramatic situation. Dramatis Personne- actors in a play
Dumb Show- a shortened, silent rendition of a play before the actual performance Dynamic Character- a character who changes or grows throughout a story Editorial- an article in a newspaper or other periodical presenting the opinion of the publisher Effect- something that is produced by an agency or cause; result; consequence Elegy- a mournful, melancholy, or plaintive poem, especially a funeral song or a lament for the dead Ellipsis- the omission from a sentence or other construction of one or more words that would complete or clarify the construction End Rhyme- rhyme of the terminal syllables of lines of poetry. End Stopped- ending at the end of a syntactic unit that is usually followed by a pause in speaking and a punctuation mark in writing. Enjambment- the running on of the thought from one line, couplet, or stanza to the next without a syntactical break. Epic- noting or pertaining to a long poetic composition, usually centered upon a hero, in which a series of great achievements or events is narrated in elevated style. Epigram- any witty, ingenious, or pointed saying tersely expressed. Epithet- a characterizing word or phrase firmly associated with a person or thing and often used in place of an actual name. Epilogue- a concluding part added to a literary work, as a novel Epiphany- a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience Epitomize- to contain or represent in small compass; serve as a typical example of; typify Ethos- the fundamental character or spirit of a culture; the underlying sentiment that informs the beliefs, customs, or practices of a group or society; dominant assumptions of a people or period Eulogy- a speech or writing in praise of a person or thing, especially a set oration in honor of a deceased person Euphemism- the substitution of a mild, indirect, or vague expression for one thought to be offensive, harsh, or blunt
Euphony- agreeableness of sound; pleasing effect to the ear, especially a pleasant sounding or harmonious combination or succession of words Existentialism- a philosophical attitude associated especially with Heidegger, Jaspers, Marcel, and Sartre, and opposed to rationalism and empiricism, that stresses the individual's unique position as a self-determining agent responsible for the authenticity of his or her choices. Explication- an explanation; interpretation Explicit- fully and clearly expressed or demonstrated; leaving nothing merely implied; unequivocal Exposition- a large-scale public exhibition or show, as of art or manufactured products Expository- of the nature of exposition; serving to expound, set forth, or explain: an expository essay; expository writing. Extended Metaphor- a metaphor introduced and then further developed throughout all or part of a literary work, especially a poem External Conflict- struggle between a literary or dramatic character and an outside force such as nature or another character, which drives the dramatic action of the plot Eye Rhyme- a rhyme involving words that are similar in spelling but not in sound Fable- a short tale to teach a moral lesson, often with animals or inanimate objects as characters; apologue Fate- something that unavoidably befalls a person; fortune; lot Figurative Language- language that contains or uses figures of speech, especially metaphors. Figure of Speech- any expressive use of language, as a metaphor, simile, personification, or antithesis, in which words are used in other than their literal sense, or in other than their ordinary locutions, in order to suggest a picture or image or for other special effect. Fixed Form- a form of poetry or writing that follow specific rules Flashback- a device in the narrative of a motion picture, novel, etc., by which an event or scene taking place before the present time in the narrative is inserted into the chronological structure of the work. Foot- a group of two or more syllables in which one syllable has the major stress, forming the basic unit of poetic rhythm Foreshadowing- to show or indicate beforehand; prefigure
Free Verse- verse that does not follow a fixed metrical pattern. Fulcrum- the support, or point of rest, on which a lever turns in moving a body. Genre- a class or category of artistic endeavor having a particular form, content, technique, or the like: Haiku- a major form of Japanese verse, written in 17 syllables divided into 3 lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables, and employing highly evocative allusions and comparisons, often on the subject of nature or one of the seasons Hamartia- the flaw in character which leads to the downfall of the protagonist in a tragedy Hero/Heroine- a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities. Heroic Couplet- a stanza consisting of two rhyming lines in iambic pentameter, especially one forming a rhetorical unit and written in an elevated style, Hubris- excessive pride or self-confidence; arrogance. Hyperbole- obvious and intentional exaggeration Iamb- a foot of two syllables, a short followed by a long in quantitative meter, or an unstressed followed by a stressed in accentual meter, Iambic Pentameter- a common meter in poetry consisting of an unrhymed line with five feet or accents, each foot containing an unaccented syllable and an accented syllable Imagery- the formation of mental images, figures, or likenesses of things, or of such images collectively Implicit- implied, rather than expressly stated Implied Metaphor- a metaphor that is not directly stated In Medias Res- in the middle of things. Incremental Repetition- method for learning and retaining information from reading that might otherwise be forgotten Inference- A conclusion reached on the basis of evidence and reasoning
Interjection- An abrupt remark, made esp. as an aside or interruption
Internal Conflict- A psychological conflict within the central character. The primary struggle is between different aspects of a single personality. Internal Rhyme- A rhyme involving a word in the middle of a line and another at the end of the line or in the middle of the next Interrogatory- A written question that is formally put to one party in a case by another party and that must be answered; Conveying the force of a question; questioning
Inversion: reversal of the usual or natural order of words; anastrophe. Irony: A contrast between what appears to be and what really is. Juxtaposition: Putting things side by side for purposes of comparison Limerick: A kind of humorous verse of five lines. Litotes: Understatement. Local Color: Distinctive, sometimes picturesque characteristics or peculiarities of a place or period. Logical fallacy: A fallacy in logical argumentation. Lyric: Having the form and musical quality of a song. Melodrama: A dramatic form that does not observe the laws of cause and effect. Metaphor: A figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance. Meter: The rhythmic element as measured by division into parts of equal time value. Metonymy: A figure of speech that consists of the use of the name of one object or concept for that of another. Microcosm: A little world. Minor Character: A character that is not as important to the plot or plays a supporting role to the main character. Mixed Metaphor: A mixed metaphor is one that leaps from one identification to a second identification inconsistent with the first. Monologue: A prolonged talk or discourse by a single speaker, especially one dominating or monopolizing a conversation. Mood: A prevailing emotional tone or general attitude. What the reader feels.
Motif: A recurring subject, theme, idea, etc., especially in a literary, artistic, or musical work. Motivation: The act or an instance of motivating. Myth: a traditional or legendary story. Narrative poem: A poem that tells a story and has a plot. Narrative Pace: Narrative pace is the rate at which a story moves. Narrator’s voice: The voice of the narrator. Near or slant rhyme: Rhyme in which either the vowels or the consonants of stressed syllables are identical. Non-fiction: The branch of literature comprising works of narrative prose dealing with or offering opinions or conjectures upon facts and reality. Novel/Novella: a fictitious prose narrative of considerable length and complexity. Objectivity: A reason or argument offered in disagreement. Octave: A group of eight lines of verse. Ode: A lyric poem typically of elaborate or irregular metrical form. Onomatopoeia: When a word sounds like what it means. Oratory: Public speaking marked by the use of overblown rhetoric. Oxymoron: A figure of speech by which a locution produces an incongruous, seemingly selfcontradictory effect. Parable: A short allegorical story designed to illustrate or teach some truth, religious principle, or moral lesson. Paradox: A statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth. Parallel construction: Shows that two or more ideas are equally important by stating them in grammatically parallel form. Paraphrase: A restatement of a text or passage giving the meaning in another form.
Parody: A humorous or satirical imitation of a serious piece of literature or writing.
Passive voice: One of the two “voices” of verbs. Pastoral: Having the simplicity, charm, serenity, or other characteristics generally attributed to rural areas. Pathos: Good emotion – sympathize with character. Pedantic: Ostentatious in one's learning. Periodic: Recurring at intervals of time. Persona: The aspect of someone's character that is presented to or perceived by others Personification: The attribution of a personal nature or character to inanimate objects or abstract notions. Perspective: A technique of depicting volumes and spatial relationships on a flat surface. Persuasion: The act of persuading. Picaresque: Pertaining to, characteristic of, or characterized by a form of prose fiction. Plot: Storyline. Poetic Justice: An ideal distribution of rewards and punishments such as is common in some poetry and fiction. Poetic License: License or liberty taken by a poet. Point-of view: Narrator, who tells the story. Prologue: A preface or introductory part of a discourse, poem, or novel. Prose: The ordinary form of spoken or written language. Prosody: The stress and intonation patterns of an utterance. Protagonist: The good guy. Proverb: A short popular saying. Psychological novel: A psychological novel is a work of prose fiction which places more than the usual amount of emphasis on interior characterization, and on the motives, circumstances, and internal action which develop external action. Pun: A play on words.
Quatrain: A stanza or poem of four lines. Realism: Interest in or concern for the actual or real. Reductio ad absurdum: A method of proving the falsity of a premise by showing that its logical consequence is absurd or contradictory. Refrain: A repeated line or number of lines in a poem or song, typically at the end of each verse.
Renaissance a renewal of life, vigor, interest, etc.; rebirth; revival: a moral renaissance. Repetition the act of repeating; repeated action, performance, production, or presentation. Resolution a formal expression of opinion or intention made; the act of resolving or
determining upon an action or course of action, method, procedure, etc.
Rhetoric (in writing or speech) the undue use of exaggeration or display; bombast; the art or
science of all specialized literary uses of language in prose or verse, including the figures of speech.
Rhetorical Devices used to evoke an emotional response in the audience, to persuade towards
a particular frame of view or a particular course of action. Metaphor and Irony are rhetorical devices.
Rhetorical question A question asked merely for effect with no answer expected. The answer
may be obvious or immediately provided by the questioner.
Rhetorical stance A writer's subject, audience, and persona (or voice). Rhyme scheme the pattern of rhymes used in a poem, usually marked by letters to
symbolize correspondences, as rhyme royal, ababbcc.
Rising action a related series of incidents in a literary plot that build toward the point of
Romanticism the Romantic style or movement in literature and art, or adherence to its
principles ( contrasted with classicism). Romantic spirit or tendency.
Sarcasm a harsh, personally directed comment; mock. Satire the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding
vice, folly, etc.
Horatian gentle, urbane, smiling---correct with laughter - Juvenalian bitter, biting, angry---points with contempt
Scansion the metrical analysis of verse. The usual marks for scansion are ˘ for a short or
unaccented syllable, ¯ or for a long or accented syllable, ^ for a rest, | for a foot division, and ‖ for a caesura or pause.
Sentimentality the quality or state of being sentimental or excessively sentimental. Sestet the last six lines of a sonnet in the Italian form, considered as a unit. Compare octave. Setting the locale, place, or period in which the action of a novel, play, film, etc., takes place. Simile a figure of speech in which two unlike things are explicitly compared, as in “she is like a rose.” Slang the jargon of a particular class, profession; very informal usage in vocabulary. Soliloquy an utterance or discourse by a person who is talking to himself or herself Sonnet a poem, properly expressive of a single, complete thought, idea, or sentiment, of 14 lines,
usually in iambic pentameter.
- Shakespearean a sonnet composed of three quatrains and a terminal couplet in iambic pentameter with the rhyme pattern abab cdcd efef gg. Petrarchan A sonnet containing an octave with the rhyme scheme abbaabba and a sestet following any of various patterns such as cdecde or cdcdcd.
Spatial of or pertaining to space; existing or occurring in space; having extension in space. Spondee metrical foot consisting of two long (Stressed) syllables. // Stanza an arrangement of a certain number of lines, usually four or more, sometimes having a
fixed length, meter, or rhyme scheme, forming a division of a poem.
Static Character (Flat) a literary or dramatic character who undergoes little or no inner
change; a character who does not grow or develop.
Stereotype to characterize or regard as a stereotype; to give a fixed form to. Stream-of-Consciousness A literary style in which one's thoughts and feelings are depicted
in a continuous and uninterrupted flow.
Structure the relationship or organization of the component parts of a work of art or
literature: the structure of a poem.
Style those components or features of a literary composition that have to do with the form of
expression rather than the content of the thought expressed
Stylistic devices In literature and writing, a stylistic device is the use of any of a variety of
techniques to give an auxiliary meaning, idea, or feeling to the literal or written.
Subplot a secondary or subordinate plot, as in a play, novel, or other literary work; under-plot. Summarize to make a summary of; state or express in a concise form. Surrealism a style of art and literature (20th century) stressing the subconscious or
nonrational significance of imagery arrived at by automatism or the exploitation of chance effects, unexpected juxtapositions, etc. Dream elements.
Suspense a state or condition of mental uncertainty or excitement, as in awaiting a
decision or outcome, usually accompanied by a degree of apprehension or anxiety.
Syllogism deductive (logical) reasoning in which a conclusion is derived from two premises. Symbol(ism) representing things by symbols, or of investing things with a symbolic
character. meaning or
Synecdoche a figure of speech in which a part is used for the whole or the whole for a part,
the special for the general or the general for the special, as in ten sail for ten ships or a Croesus for a rich man.
Syntactic patterns patterns in the usage of syntax. Syntax complexity and length of sentences; the patterns of formation of sentences and
phrases from words.
Synthesize to form (a material or abstract entity) by combining parts or elements; to
synthesize a statement.
Tercet a group of three lines rhyming together or connected by rhyme with the adjacent group or
groups of three lines.
Theme a unifying idea, image, or motif, repeated or developed throughout a work; an idea or topic
expanded in a discourse, discussion.
Thesis a proposition stated or put forward for consideration, especially one to be discussed and
proved or to be maintained against objections
Tone (attitude) narrator’s attitude toward the subject and toward the audience implied in a
Tragedy a dramatic composition, often in verse, dealing with a serious or somber theme,
typically that of a great person destined through a flaw of character or conflict with some overpowering force, as fate or society, to downfall or destruction.
Tragic hero A tragic hero is the main character in a tragedy; suffers from a tragic flaw that
eventually causes his downfall
Tragic flaw the character flaw or error of a tragic hero that leads to his downfall Transcendentalism An idealistic philosophical and social movement; taught that divinity
pervades all nature and humanity, and its members held progressive views on feminism and communal living.
Trochee A foot consisting of one long or stressed syllable followed by one short or unstressed
Unreliable Narrator provides inaccurate, misleading, conflicting, or otherwise questionable
information to the reader or audience; his/her credibility has been seriously compromised.
Vernacular The language or dialect spoken by the ordinary people in a particular country or region Verse form a composition written in metrical feet forming rhythmical lines Villain (in a play or novel) A character whose evil actions or motives are important to the plot;
A person guilty or capable of a crime or wickedness
Villanelle A nineteen-line poem with two rhymes throughout, consisting of five tercets and a
quatrain, with the first and third lines of the opening tercet recurring alternately at the end of the other tercets and with both repeated at the close of the concluding quatrain.
Voice the author's style, the quality that makes his or her writing unique, and which conveys the
author's personality, and character.
“Willing Suspension of Disbelief” Temporarily and willingly setting aside our beliefs
about reality in order to enjoy the make-believe of a play, a poem, film, or a story; An attitude of mind in which the audience accepts as plausible some circumstances which would otherwise be
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